Jolivette Mecenas

HypnoBirthing: Visualizing A Gentle, Drug-Free Birth

Jolivette, shown at her recent baby shower, is planning to use the HypnoBirthing method of natural childbirth. i i

hide captionJolivette, shown at her recent baby shower, is planning to use the HypnoBirthing method of natural childbirth.

Courtesy of Jolivette Mecenas
Jolivette, shown at her recent baby shower, is planning to use the HypnoBirthing method of natural childbirth.

Jolivette, shown at her recent baby shower, is planning to use the HypnoBirthing method of natural childbirth.

Courtesy of Jolivette Mecenas

I like to think that as a couple, Charlyne and I put the "hip" into HypnoBirthing, but it looks like actor Jessica Alba and her husband beat us to it.

HypnoBirthing, as second-time mom-to-be Alba explained to Ellen DeGeneres on her show recently, is the use of hypnotherapy during pregnancy and birthing. Mom concentrates on breathing, while the "birthing companion" (mom's partner) relaxes her with guided hypnosis and light massage. It seems to be gaining popularity, as I've seen several other women on The Baby Project post or comment on their HypnoBirth experience.

We try to practice every night, Charlyne reading a scripted narration, while I close my eyes and breathe deeply, drifting into a deeper and deeper state of relaxation as she talks me through the colors of the rainbow. It's hard for us to picture "the strawberry-red mist that envelopes my torso" without feeling silly, so our teacher suggests we substitute another relaxing image. We can visualize our recent vacation in Hawaii. ("Picture yourself melting away in the crystal blue waters of Maui.") Charlyne wants to narrate a scene of our dog romping through a field of green grass.

Theoretically, by the time we get to the last color of the rainbow, I'll be so relaxed that my body and natural instinct will take over and pop that babe out, without tensing up from fear or anxiety.

About Jolivette

Jolivette Mecenas, 38, lives with her partner, Charlyne, in Los Angeles. The two welcomed their first child, Maximilian Dominic Mecenas-Sarmiento, on Aug. 17.

This natural childbirth philosophy is meant to shift our personal perceptions away from the popular, as-seen-on-TV depictions of childbirth as scary, medicalized and essentially traumatic. Think of MTV's 16 and Pregnant, which I shamelessly admit to watching this summer.

On the episodes I've seen, the girls are given the drug Pitocin to medically induce labor, after which their contractions become so painful that they beg for an epidural. Yet even with pain medication, the girls still seem fearful.

Now this may be a scare tactic for kids in the home audience, sending the message that pregnancy and childbirth (not to mention teen parenthood) are way less fun than the activities that got them there in the first place, but still — these are the only representations of childbirth we see in popular culture. HypnoBirthing offers an alternative approach to pregnancy and childbirth that is, in the words of the ever-hip Jessica Alba, way more "chill."

We chose HypnoBirthing because, as a yoga practitioner, I understand the physical and mental power of deep breathing and stretching one's body to its utmost potential. Admittedly, I've never stretched my cervix or birth canal way open in a yoga pose, but how much more different from downward dog can it be? Also, it's a birthing method that heavily involves the partner, and Charlyne is ready and willing to take on that role, without a question.

Jolivette and Charlyne with their dog, Ono i i

hide captionJolivette and Charlyne with their dog, Ono

Courtesy of Jolivette Mecenas
Jolivette and Charlyne with their dog, Ono

Jolivette and Charlyne with their dog, Ono

Courtesy of Jolivette Mecenas

And so, following this philosophy, our written birth plan will include the request that during the "opening" phase of labor (while I am dilating), "staff honor the need for quiet and refrain from references to 'pain,' 'hurt,' or any offer of medication unless requested." During the "birthing" phase (aka delivery), we request "calm, low tones, free of 'pushing' prompts." In my relaxed state, there's no need for anyone to coach me into harsh pushing, as the baby is gently sliding out in tune to the natural surges of my body.

I know this all sounds wonderful in theory, and that our birth plan for a relaxed and gentle natural childbirth sounds super-idealistic. But this preparation has made me feel more at ease as a first-timer. Watching videos of live births in our class, the women are sweating but smiling; some are triumphantly vocal, while others are quietly zen; one woman was even belly dancing!

The key to making our birth plan work is flexibility. Should a medical emergency arise, the doctor or midwife has our permission to do what she needs to do. A healthy baby (and healthy me!) is the goal, after all, and we'll do what it takes to get there.

I'm interested in hearing positive HypnoBirthing stories from parents out there, so please share!


Lucy Peck is also planning to use the HypnoBirthing method. Read about her birth plan, as well as the birth plan of Lateefah Torrence, who was thrilled to finally find a doctor who fully supports her decisions.

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